Chicken Run: Covered or Not?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Savy, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. Savy

    Savy Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 22, 2013
    We need to build a run. We have a chain-link fence and turkey wire to do so. We were thinking of putting up a perimeter of at least 4ft high around the coop. We may put wire up around the edges of the run at an inward angle, which would cover the run just at the perimeter. Is it essential that we cover the entire run if we keep the chickens securely in the coop at night? We live in downtown Denver so our biggest concerns would be raccoons and foxes. Our neighbor has a dog which may deter predators a bit. Any advice?
  2. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    Only you know your predator load.
    Raccoons can easily climb over the fence.
    Also, if you have flying predators, the chickens become easy pickins if contained in one location with no shelter.
    Figure out what types of predators are most likely to attack and build what you need accordingly.

    My chickens all free range here, but I have trees where they can hide from the hawks.
    I don't have to worry about raccoons during the day and my chickens are all locked up at night.
    I have coyotes here, too, but not during the day.
    I also have livestock guardian dogs (since this is a farm with livestock) and they keep the coyotes and dogs away.

    Just giving you an example of what works for my situation.
    You might want to start off with an uncovered run to see if you notice any issues and go from there.
  3. EggsBeesSeeds

    EggsBeesSeeds Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 15, 2013
    My vote is always for covered AND buried, but like AlienChick says, only you know your predators. Raccoons can climb like crazy, but usually only come out at night or early morning. Foxes can be a concern in the daytime, but covering the coop is less of an issue for them as they dig more, so extending your chicken wire into the ground is a better option. If they are fully locked up at night, you have just deterred most of your predator issues.

    I go covered because not only are predators a concern but birds as well. Local birds can snack on your chickens food, drink your chickens water and even try and roost with your chickens at night. Although this may just seem like an inconvenience to you, they can spread disease to your flock, which is a big issue.

    Other, less "cute" avian species can also harm and/or kill your chickens. Around my house, ravens are actually the biggest problem. They steal eggs and my neighbor even has had chickens killed by them (I know it seems weird because usually crows and ravens are not considered "bad" but around here, they have a taste for chicken and almost enjoy torturing them).

    Also, I go covered because I can't let my chickens out in the morning. I work well before the sun comes up, so I just leave the door to the coop open to the run so they can have plenty of room to move around until I can let them out to free range when I get home. So if letting your chickens out in the morning can sometimes be an issue for you, perhaps covered is a good option.

    I say if it doesn't really cost much more and you can easily just put a cover of chicken wire over it, why not? Just make sure you can easily stand up in the run! Nothing quite like trying to clean out a run when you are hunched over... back pain anyone?
  4. Blingaling1

    Blingaling1 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 6, 2013
    I live in southern California and our predators are coyotes, raccoons, possums, neighbor dogs, and hawks. They primarily live in an uncovered run with no buried fence. At night they are locked up in a predator proof coop. I had an issue with them flying over my 5ft tall fence though and a quick clip solved the issue, unfortunately after we lost one to the dog. To prevent digging predators we have dogs that roam the property and chase off them. For the aerial predators I rely on my rooster to help deter them but it's not fool proof. Maybe one day I'll get a goose or two to help with that. But until then, this is working out.
  5. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2012
    Dogs can jump a 4 foot fence pretty easily. So can foxes, and raccoons will go right over it. That said, we live in an area with coyotes, dogs, bears, cougars, hawks, ospreys, eagles, wolves, etc. We had a problem with a coyote trying to get into the coop twice, our dog ran him off and he hasn't been back. The neighbor's great dane scratched around a bit and gave up and went away and hasn't been back. The chickens are left alone, even when they're free ranging.

    In town your biggest concern will actually probably be the coons and neighborhood dogs. The chickens can escape a 4-5 foot fence pretty easily if they really want to, but any medium to large sized dog can get in there even easier. If you don't want to cover the run that's perfectly fine, but consider raising the fence to 8-10 feet. You can go get some 2x4s (used or new) or see if somebody can't hook you up with some long wood poles off their property or something, and just attach them to your fence then staple chicken wire to them.

    I would also take an extra 2 feet of chicken wire and bury it a few inches under the ground and then let it sprawl outward, cover it all up with dirt, or bury it straight 2 feet underground to deter digging.

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